Dell Medical School

Strategic Plans

All Dell Med faculty included in their departments' research plans/efforts were asked to complete a Research Lab/Program Strategic Plan to help provide input into our research strategic and financial planning.

FY21 plans below are listed alphabetically by department and then by investigator.  After viewing a plan use your browser's back button to return to this webpage. You may also Download this list. 

FY21 Research Strategic Plans

Department  Investigator  Overall Goal/s Link to View Plan
Diagnostic Medicine Bryan, Nick 1) Identify predictors of cerebrovascular disease(CVD) and associated cognitive impairment.  2) Create a medical physics program with a unique focus on medical radioisotopes.
Diagnostic Medicine Craddock, Richard C Development of new MRI acquisition and data analysis techniques for identifying biomarkers of clinical disorders and their symptoms
Diagnostic Medicine Virostko, John 1) Create imaging biomarkers for prediction, prognosis, and monitoring therapeutic response in type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes.   2) Elucidate the connection between diabetes and cancer.
Diagnostic Medicine Yankeelov, Thomas Develop tumor forecasting methods by integrating advanced imaging technologies with predictive, multi-scale models of tumor growth to optimize therapy.
Internal Medicine Adamson, Adewole Uncover and decrease health care disparities in melanoma prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.
Internal Medicine Demorrow, Sharon Understand the molecular pathogenesis associated with acute and chronic liver diseases and their contributions to extrahepatic complications.
Internal Medicine Feagins, Linda A 1) Improve care and quality of care for patients with inflammatory bowel disease seen at Dell Med and affiliated institutions.  2) Improve outcomes for and reduce the incidence of GI bleeding (as a complication of GI procedures and/or not related to procedures).
Internal Medicine Jacobs, Elizabeth A Reduce health disparities and advance health equity through patient-centered and community based interventions that address language, literacy, and cultural barriers and that reduce social driver/determinants of health.
Internal Medicine Kvale, Elizabeth Improve quality of life and survival for patients living with serious illness (cancer).
Internal Medicine Mcmillin, Matthew 1) Identify the mechanisms of cell death and regeneration during acute liver failure. 2) Develop strategies to slow or reduce hepatic fibrosis. 3) Identify novel treatment strategies for the management of hepatic encephalopathy.
Internal Medicine Novick, Tessa Studying ways to improve care and designing interventions targeting marginalized populations with kidney disease.
Internal Medicine Pignone, Michael P Reduce preventable mortality and disparities for common chronic conditions, especially colorectal cancer, lung cancer, and heart disease through improved implementation of effective screening and prevention services and improved patient engagement in decision making.
Neurology  Qubty, William 1) Better characterize headache disorders in children through a secure longitudinal database - to identify early treatment interventions that can reduce their likelihood of developing chronic pain in adulthood. 2) Research the efficacy of various nutraceuticals in treating pediatric migraine  - to understand the potential benefit of telehealth services in treating chronic headache disorders.
Neurology Britt, Steven G Identify genetic regulators of neural development, function and disease.
Neurology Brumback, Audrey C Understand autism and develop treatments for it.
Neurology Chang, Joshua Develop the tools and capabilities using advanced computational techniques to model and optimize various healthcare processes from neuronal stimulators to community networks.
Neurology Ding, Ming-Chieh More fully understand secondary mechanisms of stroke/brain injury and to develop new clinical interventions to minimize injury or enhance recovery.
Neurology Dobbs, LaurenClarify the neural circuits and substrates that contribute to the vulnerability towards and maintenance of substance use disorders.  More specifically, we aim to identify distinct and shared neural circuits and substrates that mediate the reward synergy in polysubstance abuse.
Neurology Dula, Adrienne Use quantitative analysis of clinical imaging to impact patient care decisions.
Neurology Elbert, Donald Better understanding of Alzheimer's Disease through mathematical modeling.
Neurology Freeman, Leorah Understand the mechanisms driving poorer outcomes in MS, and develop clinically applicable modeling techniques to predict individual outcome and best treatment strategy.
Neurology Frohman, Elliot M Develop a high throughput neuroscience system from which to both dissect mechanisms of disease; and translate advances from this into testable hypothesis-driven questions about the detection and monitoring of neurotherapeutic properties such as neuroprotection, prevention, neurorestoration, neurorehabilitation, and performance enhancement.
Neurology Frohman, Teresa Translate the measures of visual system structure and function, that I and my husband Elliot have developed and validated over many years of collaborative research, into clinical trials aimed at detecting and monitoring protective, preventative, and restorative properties of novel or repurposed agents that will be proven to be endowed with neurotherapeutic actions for patients with MS and other neuroimmunological disorders.
Neurology Hamilton, Liberty Understand the brain systems that support speech and language in neurotypical individuals and in children and adults with intractable epilepsy.
Neurology Hilsabeck, Robin 1)  Examine outcomes related to dementia care provided in the Comprehensive Memory Center. 2)  Investigate the utility of unobtrusive technologies for early detection of cognitive decline.  3)  Identify relationships between immune system activation & environmental factors contributing to cognitive decline & dementia risk.
Neurology Howard, Mackenzie Discover the causative changes in synaptic integration and plasticity that alter neural information processing and lead to the seizures and cognitive deficits of epilepsy disorders.
Neurology Jones, Corinne Revolutionize swallowing disorder (dysphagia) evaluation and management in the setting of neurologic and neurodegenerative disorders. In doing so, we will improve health, survival, and quality of life for millions of people suffering from such disorders.
Neurology Julich, Kristina Understand the epileptogenic and proconvulsant mechanisms of dysregulated mTOR signaling in the brain.
Neurology Marinelli, Micky Understand the biological mechanisms of addiction and motivated behavior.
Neurology Melamed, Esther Understand how genetics, dietary factors and gut microbiome contribute toward the risk of development and progression of demyelinating diseases with the goal of developing targeted probiotics and remyelinating therapies for patients with multiple sclerosis and neuromyelitis optica.
Neurology Meltzer, Ethan Improvement in the care of multiple sclerosis through clinical trials and innovative care models.
Neurology Messing, Robert Understand the neurobiology of substance use disorders and find new medications to treat them. See lab website for overview:
Neurology Millan, Jose Del R Develop new interventions based on brain-computer interface (BCI) technology for the restoration and rehabilitation of lost function after CNS insult or neurodegenerative disease.
Neurology Noble, Linda J Understand the early molecular substrates that govern neurological recovery after traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries and develop therapeutics aimed at restoring function.    The longer term objective is to develop therapeutic strategies, administered in the acute phase after injury,  that support recovery after these injuries.
Neurology Orsini, Caitlin Understand the neurobiological and hormonal substrates underlying impaired decision making as a result of substance use disorders.
Neurology Osier, Nico1) Establish a pediatric traumatic brain injury (TBI) biological bank containing serum for analysis of protein biomarkers, saliva for analysis of genetic variation, and associated self-reported data. 2) Create a biological bank of individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS) to discover novel associations between biomarkers and clinical characteristics (e.g. MS subtype; symptom profiles; response to intervention).
Neurology Paydarfar, David Develop novel biosensors, signal-processing algorithms, and user interfaces that will enable clinicians and researchers to track and predict not just the health of individual patients but entire populations. And as a way to understand disease dynamics, smart monitoring systems will provide unprecedented opportunities to conduct fieldwork on human physiology and pathophysiology.
Neurology Wang, Jun  1) Develop a wearable silent speech interface to enhance the oral communication of laryngectomees.     2)  Advance the diagnosis and prognosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)  using speech signals.  3)  Enable efficient communication of locked-in patients (e.g. patients in late-stage ALS) via speech driven brain-computer interface.
Neurology Warach, Steven Reduce death and disability from stroke, prevent and treat the complications of stroke and prevent the recurrence of secondary stroke.
Neurology Watrous, Andrew Identify the electrophysiological mechanisms mediating human memory in order to develop  treatments for memory impairments.
Neurosurgery Ho, Winson Develop novel immunotherapy for pediatric brain tumors.
Neurosurgery Kuo, John Developing novel therapeutic agents and strategies  for brain tumors.
Neurosurgery Lu, Rongze Identify factors determining the immunosuppression in brain cancer with the goal to develop novel immunotherapy for these disease.
Oncology/LCI Aung, Kyaw Establish an innovative bench-to-bedside-bedside-to-bench translational research program that delivers personalized therapeutics that improve clinical outcomes of patients with pancreatic cancer.
Oncology/LCI Capasso, Anna Identify novel therapeutic apporoaches for non-responding right-sided and MSS colorectal cancer patients.
Oncology/LCI Chow, Laura Establish infrastructure and processes for streamlined early phase clinical trials program/clinical research program  Mentor and support design of investigator-initiated trials in collaboration with local scientists, NIH, pharma and local funding agencies.
Oncology/LCI Eckhardt, Gail S Cure cancer.
Oncology/LCI Kowalski-Muegge, Jeanne Understand the molecular mechanisms by which some cancer patient tumors respond exceptionally well to treatment while others either do not respond at all or acquire resistance to it.  If successful, we will be able to predict what drugs will be best for an individual patient and improve treatments for patients who would otherwise do poorly.
Oncology/LCI Matsui, William Understand the intersection between cancer and stem cell biology and to develop novel therapies based on these findings.
Oncology/LCI Triplett, Todd Find strategies for harnessing the immune system in eradicating tumors of different cancer types. One primary focus is on targeting T cell co-receptors  to treat T cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (T-ALL) by eliciting potent anti-tumor immune responses as well as potential direct tumor effects.
Oncology/LCI Van Den Berg, Carla Develop better treatments for Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC), colorectal cancer and pancreatic cancer.
Oncology/LCI Yi, Song Define the best biomarkers or drug combinations or therapeutic strategies for cancer patients.
Pediatrics Abrams, Steve Enhance the nutritional health of infants and children.
Pediatrics Brenna, James T Merge advanced instrumentation and techniques for metabolite analysis with deep knowledge of food, biochemistry, genetics and ecology, to improve health of all persons via proper nutrition. Our research informs policy and practice.
Pediatrics Gray, Megan Investigate root causes of obesogenic behaviors that lead to Latinx early childhood excessive weight gain; develop culturally sensitive intervention to target sleep and feeding routines in first two years of life.
Pediatrics Gray, Ryan Diagnosis and treatment of scoliosis and other musculoskeletal disease.
Pediatrics Hole, Michael Improve health and economic opportunities for people with low income in the United States through social entrepreneurship.
Pediatrics Kim, Sung Eun Study the causes and prevention of complex birth defects to identify how genetic modifications in select birth defects affect pediatric diseases including cancers or neurologic disorders.
Pediatrics Kothapalli, Kumar 1) Reduce incidence of preterm births in US and worldwide. 2) Test hypothesis that neonates with high levels of proinflammatory arachidonic acid levels have more severe clinical manifestations of patent ductus arteriosus. 3) Study unusual fatty acid biosynthesis in breast cancer cells. 4) Test various fatty acid substrates using three Indel genotypes. 5) Replicate our in vitro data showing processing contaminants increase cholesterol levels.
Pediatrics Leidy, Heather Develop novel nutrition strategies that promote weight management and glucose control to prevent the progression of obesity and type 2 diabetes in children and adolescents.
Pediatrics Powers, John Work to develop more physiologic models of human cancer as well as new therapeutic approaches to cancer. We are focused on therapies that contribute to higher survival rates as well as reduced survivorship issues.
Pediatrics Tobias, Herbert Advance synthetic steroid detection in sport doping which ultimately has implications to the health of child athletes in schools where they feel compelled to use performance enhancing drugs to compete.
Pediatrics Wang, Honran 1) Elucidate the fundamental mechanisms of how  genetic variants and their associated genes facilitate or predict atrial fibrillation (AF), and dissect how these interactions may result in AF and recurrence of AF.    2)  Study molecular mechanism of neural tube defect
Population Health Barczyk, Amanda  1.) Prevent all fatal and nonfatal suicide attempts.   2.) End racism to ensure the provision of equitable services for all members our community thereby eradicating childhood adversity.
Population Health Bernacki, Edward Decrease the incidence and cost of injury and disease in working populations.
Population Health Brown, Virginia A Establish the routine creation, memorializing and retrieving of advance care planning for persons living with serious mental illness (AKA Psychiatric Advance Directives) throughout the DMS/Ascension Seton/UT Health System network.
Population Health Burgermaster, Marissa Precision behavioral nutrition: Providing people the right intervention at the right time to help them achieve their dietary goals and prevent/manage chronic disease. A specific focus is to achieve this with attention to the use of digital technology and patient-generated data in a way that improves access to these technologies for underserved groups and improves health equity.
Population Health Garcia, Alex Partner with community members and organizations to explore the impact of social determinants on health and to design, test, and evaluate interventions aimed at improving health equity and health outcomes.
Population Health Khurshid, Anjum Informatics research and development to demonstrate improved health outcomes through better use of data and technology
Population Health Lee, Ernestine Improve Preventive Screening, Medical Care, and Mental health care of long term cancer survivors
Population Health Matsui, Elizabeth Identify major environmental exposures driving asthma in central Texas broadly, and among minority communities specifically, and implement clinical and population health programs targeting these exposures that effectively reduce the burden of asthma among these populations.
Population Health Mercer, Tim Improve access, quality, and equity in health care for poor and vulnerable populations globally
Population Health Rathouz, Paul  1)Develop and apply transparent, robust, and user-friendly ways to analyze data and design biomedical investigations.    2) Provide leading edge and highly creative and tailored approaches to the analysis of longitudinal speech and language (S&L) development data.  3) Fully integrate and maintain statistical thinking in a learning health system.  4)Optimize the scientific efficiency and integrity of Dell Medical School around quantitative methodology, biomedical and population health data, and the activities of a data-driven learning health system.

Population Health Rodriguez, Lourdes Integrate perspectives of people most-impacted by health inequities in the creation of a research agenda for the Department in general and the work of the Community-Driven Initiatives (CDI) team in particular. I hope to leverage knowledge about research to answer questions generated by community colleagues, inform my research design/methodology and that of faculty who aspire to do community engaged research but lack that expertise.
Population Health Rousseau, Justin F Develop, customize, implement, and measure the impact of informatics tools to enhance communication using existing health care data among clinicians caring for the same patients and for researchers studying similar cohorts of patients. The contexts are many: clinical care, clinical decision support, referral communication and navigation.
Population Health Schnarrs, Phillip Ending health disparities among marginalized populations. Specifically, addressing health disparities among sexual and gender minorities mostly focused in the areas of sexual health, mental health, and substance use disorder by addressing social land behavioral determinants of health through community-based participatory research.
Population Health Spielberg, Freya Implement and evaluate interventions to improve health outcomes, lower healthcare costs, and diminish health disparities.
Population Health Tierney, Bill Improving the delivery of primary care and population health and wellbeing to low-income, underserved persons in Austin/Travis County/Central Texas and Mexico.
Population Health Valdez, Carmen The overall goals of my research are to 1) examine social determinants of mental health among Latino immigrants 2) create and implement mental health promotion  and intervention services for Latino communities  3) increase access to training and novel methods in community based participatory research
Psychiatry Almeida, Jorge R cure bipolar disorder
Psychiatry Benzer, Justin K My grand goal is to develop interventions based on organizational and social models of change that promote organizational learning across health care settings.
Psychiatry Bond, Mark 1. Generate clinical recommendations for modern pediatric psychology through collaborating with faculty at the Texas Child Study Center.  2. Provide statistical and psychometric capability to the faculty in the Department of Psychiatry and the Dell Medical School.
Psychiatry Claborn, Kasey Improve treatment access and effectiveness for people who use drugs
Psychiatry Collier, Samuel Evaluate the efficacy of extant and novel treatments (medication, neuromodulation) for treatment resistant depression, bipolar depression, post traumatic stress disorder, and peripartum depression.
Psychiatry Creech, Suzannah K Develop and enhance evidence-based interventions to improve recovery in individuals with brain health disorders by improving relationship and family functioning and reducing risk for trauma. My work has an emphasis on populations with a disproportionate risk for trauma and PTSD including veterans, the military and women.
Psychiatry Dunsmoor, Joseph E Jr Improve treatments for PTSD and Anxiety disorders based on the neuroscience of learning & memory. My lab hopes to understand how to improve learning and memory of safety to counteract old memories of fear.
Psychiatry Fonzo, Gregory Improve the treatment and scientific understanding of stress-related disorders of affect (PTSD, depression, and anxiety d/o).
Psychiatry Jabbi, Mbemba Identify anatomically precise (i.e. anterior insula-anterior cingulate brain circuitry) molecular abnormalities underlying mood symptom severity and suicidal risk tendencies. Identification of such molecular targets will aid the development of novel therapies for mood symptoms and suicidal urges.
Psychiatry Lippard, Elizabeth T Improve clinical course/outcomes associated with mood disorders and addiction and interactions between these conditions. This includes investigating risk in youth with familial risk and investigating disease heterogeneity in youth diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
Psychiatry Nemeroff, Charles Reduce the prevalence and dire health consequences of child abuse and neglect. Understand the biological consequences of early life trauma and develop novel target to treat the psychiatric and medical consequences including depression, PTSD, as well as heart disease, stroke, obesity and diabetes. Develop the best evidence based treatment for children, adolescents and adults with a history of child abuse and neglect.
Psychiatry Newport, D Jeffrey Clarify treatment guidelines for maternal perinatal psychiatric illness by elucidating the psychobiology of perinatal psychiatric illness and substance use disorders, the pharmacokinetics of psychotropic medication during pregnancy and lactation, and the persistent biobehavioral impact of childhood trauma and other early life adverse experiences.
Psychiatry Rosen, Valerie 1) Investigate why some patients are non-responders to evidenced based treatment for PTSD 2) Look at our novel IOP to determine what aspects have added to CPT's effectiveness 3) Look at differences between Military vs civilian PTSD pt outcomes 4) Study the treatment of domestic youth sex trafficking
Psychiatry Shahidullah, Jeffrey Improve access to pediatric behavioral health services in schools and primary care through development and evaluation of innovative models of service delivery, particularly in diverse and under-served settings.
Psychiatry Strakowski, Stephen M 1) Understand neural mechanism that lead to the emergence of mania (i.e. bipolar I disorder) and early course progression. 2) Develop improved mental health care delivery and ideally preventative strategies in youth generally and bipolar disorder specifically.  3) Eliminate racial disparities in psychiatric assessment of mood disorders.
Psychiatry Toups, Marisa Improve outcomes for patients with depression through understanding mechanisms linking physical and mental health, particularly related to the immune system.
Surgery & Perioperative Care Beckerman, Ziv Rethink congenital heart disease (CHD) – i.e., to redesign the care of patients with CHD and their families in order to create a more holistic, inclusive, longitudinal, integrated, patient-centered, value-based, and technology-driven care model.
Surgery & Perioperative Care Buckley, FP Tripp Change the way we care for the patient with diseases of the foregut (GERD/Achalasia/paraesophageal hernias).
Surgery & Perioperative Care Fraser, Charles Rethink congenital heart disease (CHD) – i.e., to redesign the care of patients with CHD and their families in order to create a more holistic, inclusive, longitudinal, integrated, patient-centered, value-based, and technology-driven care model.
Surgery & Perioperative Care Haynes, Alex Integrate measures of patient centered outcomes into the decision making and surveillance aspects of multidisciplinary care. This will allow better alignment of treatment with goals and values of patients and identify opportunities for interventions to improve patient centered outcomes.
Surgery & Perioperative Care Mery, Carlos Rethink congenital heart disease (CHD) – i.e., to redesign the care of patients with CHD and their families in order to create a more holistic, inclusive, longitudinal, integrated, patient-centered, value-based, and technology-driven care model.
Women's Health Bukowski, Radek Develop a computationally aided individualized medical decision-making system from the individual patient to the policy level. The system allowing to identify computational solutions to the medical decision-making problems of importance to the healthcare stakeholders: academia, government, industry, philanthropy, and community.
Women's Health Cahill, Alison Reduce maternal and neonatal birth morbidity
Women's Health Gaither, Kelly Enable individualized medical decision making and risk stratification as it applies to outcomes in Women's Health. My particular passion is Maternal Mortality and Morbidity.
Women's Health Macones, George Develop infrastructure to support observational and clinical trials in Women's Health.
Women's Health Mak, Winifred Understand new causes and mechanisms for early pregnancy loss
Women's Health Schulz, Karl Develop a computationally aided individualized medical decision-making system from the individual patient to the policy level. The system allowing to identify computational solutions to the medical decision-making problems of importance to the healthcare stakeholders: academia, government, industry, philanthropy, and community.
Women's Health Sheppard, Celeste  Improve the value of prenatal sonography.    Ultrasonography is expensive, overused, and it performs far below expectations/potential for detection of congenital malformations. Its failures are multifactorial, but at least two are amenable to intervention: sonographer skill at acquiring the images, and interpreter recognition of abnormalities present in the image.
Women's Health Thaxton, Lauren Provide innovative solutions to family planning health care gaps in Texas.
Women's Health Widen, Elizabeth Develop and apply advanced analytic methods and interdisciplinary approaches to rigorously evaluate the role of nutrition during the first 1,000 days of life on short and long-term health - 1) the role of nutrition during pregnancy and lactation on short- and long-term maternal and child health; 2) the interrelationships between maternal and infant nutrition; 3) developing and evaluating interventions to improve maternal and child health.
Women's Health Williams-Brown, M Yvette Improve the delivery of clinical care to women with gynecologic malignancies and those who are at risk of developing a gynecologic malignancy
Women's Health Wright, Michelle Improve screening methods and identify new intervention targets using omics based approaches to mitigate disparities and improve the health of women and their children. To accomplish these goals, we investigate how the environment influences the microbiome and DNA methylation, to determine how exposures "get under the skin' and influence health outcomes.
Women's Health Zigler, Corwin Develop methods for quantitative investigation of population-based studies in women's health using modern environmental and electronic health care data sources.